Chai Oatmeal

You guys! I’m like, speechless. I knew you were awesome, but wow. I didn’t expect such an outpouring of support and hugs and well wishes and rather mindblowing compliments. I’ve been reading them over and over – I was up until 1am last night, with my laptop propped on my lap, reading rather than typing. Thankyouthankyouthankyou. Each message a treat – and far better than a chocolate. And I say that as someone who hasn’t eaten chocolate for a full two and a half days.

(I did steal some Lindt 70% cocoa chocolate with sea salt from my Dad’s stash on the weekend. Divine. No, I’m not giving up chocolate. We just need to learn to be pals. And as with anything else that’s not entirely good for me, the less I get, the less I want. When it comes to things like dark chocolate, it’s the quantity that tends to be a problem…)

I want to ditch everything and just hang out here. I want to curl up and write a big long letter back to each of you. But I have to go teach a class in Red Deer tonight, which means shopping for and setting up for it, which means I won’t be here for dinner and likely not home until midnight. (She says sheepishly to those who think I take on too much… teaching classes I think will be the first to go. I’m practicing saying no. Maybe I’ll get a T-shirt.)

So I’ll leave you with some breakfast – a recipe I had seen eons ago but hadn’t yet made. I love oats in the morning, but it’s becoming clear that I have to lay off the homemade granola – while nutrient-dense, it’s also a little too calorie-dense, particularly in the quantities I’ve been consuming with (plain) yogurt. Just another shake of granola, just another spoonful of yogurt… it’s all good for me, right?

Tony and Penny own Highwood Crossing, out by Aldersyde. They grow oats and wheat and flax and are just incredibly awesome people. An enormous bag of their organic old-fashioned oats sits in our basement, and I refill a big glass jar once in awhile to keep up in the kitchen. W loves oatmeal – he’d have it for breakfast, lunch and dinner if he could. This morning alongside his plain oatmeal with raisins, I tried Penny and Tony’s recipe for oats simmered with chai spices. Brilliant. If you don’t have coriander, cardamom and turmeric, typical spices in a chai blend (chai refers to a blend of spices, like curry) I imagine simmering a chai tea bag (or any tea you like, for that matter) in the milk to infuse it before adding the oats would work as well.

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33 comments on “Chai Oatmeal

  1. Kathy
    May 3, 2011 at 3:24 pm

    Julie I don’t know what more I can add to the outpouring of love except to say, you rock, and look after yourself. How are your iron levels (you’d mentioned fatigue?)

  2. Jaya
    May 3, 2011 at 4:46 pm

    Julie, I’m so glad that so many people stopped by to tell you how wonderful you are! It’s not everyday that we tell people how much we appreciate them…but it should be!
    Oh, and just a note of clarification: chai refers to tea (and in India, that usually means tea made with black leaves, cardamom, ginger, maybe some cinnamon, milk and sugar). It’s the hindi word for tea. So saying “chai tea” is a bit redundant. You can just call it chai 🙂

  3. CathyH
    May 3, 2011 at 4:52 pm

    We only get back what we give. Enough said?

  4. Carolyn
    May 3, 2011 at 5:55 pm

    I have oatmeal every day. I’ll try this spice combo tomorrow. Apparently tumeric is excellent for helping ward off dementia. Thank you for another delicious recipe.

  5. Melanie
    May 3, 2011 at 6:51 pm

    You open your life and tell your stories and people love reading and listening. When you go through a tough time people will care!

  6. sweetsugarbean
    May 3, 2011 at 7:12 pm

    Thank you for your honest and super brave post yesterday. Being a little lumpy myself, I could relate perfectly to what you are saying. I love reading everything you write!

  7. molly
    May 3, 2011 at 7:17 pm

    Alright, I’m really commenting on the wrong post, here, but in the spirit of catching up, and maybe underscoring the following statement a bit, here goes:

    Julie, I think you are absolutely the cat’s pajamas.

    There. That’s my up and down.

  8. Vivian
    May 3, 2011 at 7:58 pm


    You so much tell it like it is, our human condition. Family, stress, love, commitment, job, interests, needs, circumstances…we all live in the same world and all are faced at times with the same obstacles. Basically, we are that spark of inner life…never mind the outer shape we take. Nothing diminishes our SELVES. Be happy in your SELF, it really is, afterall, all that we possess. Guage instead how much you give, what warmth and love you transfer to others, how full of life and magic you are. That is one’s true worth…and your bank account is FULL darling!

  9. Julia
    May 3, 2011 at 8:16 pm

    Julie, I’ve had a girl crush on you for years. I can’t tell you how to feel about yourself, but I can tell you I find you inspiring in all kinds of ways. Don’t underestimate yourself.

  10. Angela
    May 3, 2011 at 8:20 pm

    Think I’ll try this spice combo with steel cut oats. Don’t like regular oatmeal. Can’t wait for the wknd when I have the time to make it. Yuhm!

  11. Laurie from Burnaby
    May 3, 2011 at 8:38 pm

    I’ll try this when I’m able to make oatmeal again. Meantime, you’re a treasure to us all. Kepp your chin up. Weight is only a bit of your life. Make sure you’re getting a full 8 hours every night, and you’ll find everything else falls into place. 🙂

  12. Dan Clapson
    May 3, 2011 at 9:42 pm

    Chai + oatmeal. Sounds awesome. I’m pretty much down for chai anything! Hope your class in Red Deer went well tonight! 🙂

  13. Cheryl
    May 3, 2011 at 10:34 pm

    Yum! That sounds perfect.
    And I want to know how you scored a big bag? Now that’s a treat to have.

  14. JulieVR
    May 3, 2011 at 11:49 pm

    Cheryl – you get them at Community Natural Foods! $40, if memory serves.

    Jaya – d’oh! why did I think it was a spice blend? so it’s like saying panini bread – panini meaning bread itself! thanks!!

  15. JulieVR
    May 3, 2011 at 11:54 pm

    Everyone else – thanks.

  16. Shelley
    May 4, 2011 at 6:52 am

    Hi Julie, Wow! everyone needs fan and friends like you have. I remember around a year ago that you posted the same kind of message(one where you were overwhelmed, overworked and feeling less than fit) Something tells me that you have probably added more to your life(more work, more expectations, etc.) and that any “white space” simply isn’t there for you to even attempt any sort of balance. I think you are a fantastic, creative woman who is trying so hard. Do you need to sacrifice your sleep to do the 4 am wake up calls? Really? Do you need to post here every few days? What if all of the things that you do(even though they are creative) are stifling your real creativity? it’s hard to be clear when you are numbing yourself through sleep deprivation,food and work, work, work.
    Many of us are guilty of doing this.
    Your peeps love you and really wants you to take care of yourself. I think it’s time…or else in another year you will be posting again and that would make us all sad.
    Now, just because I give you this advice doesn’t mean that I don’t struggle with it all myself. It’s just a message that I think “sisters” need to remind each other during these difficult multitasking times.
    Love you!

  17. Erin
    May 4, 2011 at 7:11 am

    mmmmmmm…I was just wondering what to have for brekkie as my husband just polished off the shreddies, so this is it!

    Cheer up Julie! We all go through rough times and, speaking from MAJOR experience, dwelling on the “food choice failures” just makes things worse. Celebrate the small victories and don’t spread yourself too thin (just your peanut butter! haha!). We all rely on you for inspiration and you always deliver. You’re truly a household name around my place!

  18. Erin
    May 4, 2011 at 7:45 am

    Just made it using the tea bag option-yummy!! Would be even better using the chai concentrate to make the flavour stronger.
    There may be hope for my shameful instant flavoured oatmeal habit yet!!

  19. Sheila
    May 4, 2011 at 11:29 am

    Yum! This was delicious.

    I think you are awesome Julie! I was gifted your cookie book years and years ago (so long that the pages are falling out) and when I found you online it made my year.

    I too have suffered from “too many commitments to count” and my life has suffered for it (not my family, not my commitments…but me). So I am on the road back to taking care of me. It’s a hard habit to break but it will be done. Take care of yourself first and the rest will fall into place.

    The real you shines through all of your posts, pictures and cookbooks. You are perfect the way you are!

  20. Marilyn
    May 4, 2011 at 1:06 pm

    It took me too many years to learn how to say “no” nicely when I was asked to take on another project. The turning point was when I was complaining to my husband about feeling tired and cranky because I was trying to fit too many things into my day. His response was “thank the person for thinking of you, say no, and then STOP talking. You don’t need to be defensive or get into a discussion about your reasons. Just say no, nicely, and then leave or change the subject.” Simple, but hard to do for someone who wants to be helpful or liked by others.

    It’s funny how, as women, we sometimes feel guilty when we refuse a request, even when we know that it will make us miserable or cranky. But, I found that the disappointment that the other person felt was usually temporary and I felt more in control of my life because I could spend time on things that were really important to me and my family.

    Just something to think about…

  21. shortysho
    May 4, 2011 at 2:34 pm

    Julie, you should try carrot cake oatmeal… I’m sure there’s lots of recipes on the web, but the basics are to add raisins, grated carrot, a teensy bit of coconut and a teeeeeeensy bit of cream cheese on top!

  22. Avery
    May 4, 2011 at 2:47 pm

    I have one more thing to add about saying no (this is like group therapy!)… I have learned to say no every time I’m asked if I’ll cut my Maternity Leave short (again) and return to work. I used to say, “Well, maybe I’ll teach here and there… ok, just for SPECIAL clients… well, maybe I could in the evenings…”, then I’d be up at 6 am pumping bottles and bottles of milk and calling home from work six times a day to make sure everything and everyone was ok, and coming home well after my daughter was asleep. Wash, rinse, repeat. This time (aside from not being able to afford daycare) I’m going to enjoy this short year at home, and hope when its over I’ll be dying to get back at it!

  23. Natalie (ga)
    May 4, 2011 at 3:58 pm

    I just used oat groats as a breakfast cereal for the first time. I made them in the rice steamer. They were nutty in flavor and so good. And as I read even better for you than rolled or steal cut.

  24. Natalie (ga)
    May 4, 2011 at 4:00 pm

    I just read Julia’s response and giggled. I am sure my husband would say I had a girl crush on you too. 🙂

  25. Mary @ Mary's Nest
    May 4, 2011 at 4:06 pm

    This sounds yummy…a great idea for a chilly morning.

    Also, I think you are smart about learning to say no. Two years ago, I was diagnosed with a rare blood disease. I take really good care of myself and plan to live a very long time but I made a lot of changes in my life. I have four priorities and one rule I live by…

    My priorities…

    1. Pray daily to strengthen my relationship with God.

    2. Focus on caring for my family by slowing down and enjoy living in the moment with them.

    3. Give myself all the time needed to properly cook for my family so that I can provide nourishing meals for them and me.

    4. Visit my aging parents regularly.

    And my 1 rule…

    Carefully evaluate any future endeavors based on the four priorities listed above. Learn to say “No”. This is the best advice I ever gave myself.

    Thanks for the great blog!

    Love and God Bless,


  26. Manon from Ontario
    May 5, 2011 at 9:07 am

    Love love love you girlfriend, keep on reading and saying NO….


  27. mmac
    May 5, 2011 at 12:01 pm

    Late to the game as I often am, but gave me a chance to read all the comments too. Reminds me of a quotation I keep handy: Nothing compares to the feeling that you are worth the effort. Julie VR.

    It’s clear how many people took the effort to respond with heartfelt comments. And that’s probably only a fraction of those who thought “OMG. I LOVE this woman.” but didn’t write anything. We’re all in your corner. Most of us with similar, but less eloquently articulated, struggles/ups and downs.

  28. JulieVR
    May 5, 2011 at 12:10 pm

    Honestly I’m just overwhelmed by the response. Wow. And it’s funny you bring up that quote – that’s the one thing I always go back to, mostly when Mike and I are fighting (I know! shocker!) – it all comes down to feeling worth the effort. That’s what so much of everything boils down to, don’t you think?

  29. Melissa W
    May 5, 2011 at 4:06 pm

    OMG, I thought I was the only one with that problem with homemade granola and plain yogurt…in fact I just put it away, I was eating it dry. Again.

  30. Carol SB
    May 6, 2011 at 8:04 pm

    I remember working with a gal… she’d come by @ lunchtime to tell us to take a break. We’d joke, “Louise’s tummy rules the realm!” but so appreciated being told, “take a break”.
    Can I tell you that, too?
    Take a break. Get some sleep.
    How to say, ‘No’:“thank the person for thinking of you, say no, and then STOP talking.” Marilyn’s husband gives good advice.
    More later.

  31. Carol SB
    May 6, 2011 at 8:46 pm

    I think my tummy is a lot like a two-year-old.
    It wants what it wants. NOW. It takes a lot of energy to keep arguing with a two-year-old. But if I give it its way all the time, it gets spoiled and unpleasant to be around. So I do with my belly what I’d do with any two-year-old:
    -Say, “Yes! But not right now.” Yes! You can have a guinea pig ranch when you grow up and live in your own house. What kinds of guinea pigs? What will the ranch barns look like?…” “Yes, tummy, you can have this pie, but not right now. Now I need to…XYZ. I’ll save this piece for after I finish this task”. Later, your tummy– like the two-year-old– will likely change her mind and not want that anyway. No harm done, save it for later or (it’s not a sin!) throw it away.
    -Distract! This is part of the ‘yes-but-not-now’ strategy. You can distract your tummy, too. Gum’s good, a walk to a different room is good, a converstion on the other side of the counter is good…
    -Switcheroo! This is where you realize the two-year-old has something NOT good for her. Take the battery away, she’ll be sad later if she licks it. Put a good, bright toy in front of her instead. So, to make the ‘new toy’ or good food look better, what do you do? Play with it. Make it enticing. PLATE IT!

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